Things that have come to my attention recently

April 28th, 2005

It has come to my attention recently that some people have been confusing my Weblog article about Ubuntu usability flaws with a bug report. To borrow a turn of phrase from Mark Pilgrim: Bug reports are things with bugsy-sounding words like “Bugzilla”, “Collector”, or “Malone” in them. Weblogs are things with cat pictures in them.


I hope that clears up any confusion.

Since Weblog entries are not bug reports, I have now filed genuine bug reports on many of the issues mentioned in my list. That is, I have reported b.u.c. 9738, b.u.c. 9379, b.g.o. 301704, b.u.c. 10114, b.u.c. 10115, b.u.c. 10117, b.g.o. 301827, b.g.o. 301829, b.u.c. 10121, b.u.c. 10123, b.g.o. 302035, b.g.o. 170546, b.g.o. 302038, b.g.o. 302076, b.g.o. 302063, b.u.c. 10194, b.u.c. 10224, b.u.c. 10225, b.g.o. 302162, b.g.o. 302164, b.g.o. 302165, b.g.o. 302177, b.g.o. 302180, b.u.c. 10232, b.u.c. 10233, and b.g.o. 302189. I’ll report the remainder as I have time. Bugs I noticed that had already been reported by other people included b.u.c. 7385, b.g.o. 41850, and b.d.o. 305228.

Reporting bugs is easy; the hardest part here was choosing the right bug database for each (shown above by the initials before each bug number), and I probably got a few of them wrong. That’s a problem that should eventually be solved by Malone, the bug database I’m working on as part of Launchpad. Canonical is paying me for Launchpad, not Ubuntu, so all those who thought I had any control over Ubuntu’s interface design can be relieved or disappointed at their leisure.

For some problems, however, reporting bugs is not the best way to get them solved. For example, making the startup process faster and hiding the scary gibberish therein are two of the many topics being discussed at Ubuntu Down Under in Sydney, that I’m attending all this week. Some of the problems in Gaim have already been fixed for the upcoming version 2.0 (well done those people). And to fix the problem of Ubuntu’s less-than-useful help, I’ll work with the Ubuntu Documentation Team.

It has also come to my attention that some people have dismissed my complaints by saying “that’s not Ubuntu, that’s Gnome”. But you know what? Regular people don’t care who made the parts. They just don’t. If Aunt Tillie bought a car and the steering wheel didn’t work properly, and the car dealer said to her “that’s not our problem, we’re just a ‘distro’ of Gnavigate™ steering wheels, go complain to them”, she’d think the dealer was nuts, and she’d be right. So if it helps, pretend I am Aunt Tillie.

The Gnome hackers themselves are smarter than this, and it’s great to see that they’re aiming to fix the Gnome-specific problems as soon as they can. Naturally, doing that will improve every operating system that uses Gnome, not just Ubuntu.

Furthermore, it has come to my attention that some people thought my list of problems in Ubuntu amounted to wanting Ubuntu to be like the Mac. I find this funny not just because the very first link in the article was to my laundry list of usability gripes with Mac OS X. I find it funny also because in my entire list of Ubuntu flaws, not once did I say the Macintosh behavior was better without also saying that the Windows behavior was better. For every point where I mentioned neither Mac OS nor Windows, the reasons I gave stand on their own. For the record, I think aiming for the usability of Mac OS is aiming way too low.

Finally, it has come to my attention that some people have been confusing my Weblog article with a review. I can’t really give concrete guidelines here, except to say that anything containing the sentence “This is not a review” probably isn’t a review. I’m not interested in reviewing software for people who might want to use it. I’m interested in encouraging developers to improve Free Software so that more people use it. I’m interested in making Free Software the stuff that runs on most of the world’s personal computers. I’m interested in fixing bug #1.